Newforma goes Lean

The Newforma LeanPlanner application helps construction teams apply lean thinking to their projects, though it is not (yet) integrated with their information management software.

Newforma logo 2015New-Hampshire, USA-based project information management software vendor Newforma has announced the launch of Newforma LeanPlanner, which will provide visual production planning software for design and construction companies using lean methods of project delivery.

Newforma LeanPlanner is powered by LeanKit, enterprise lean process and work management software that automates workflows (an alternative to the manual sticky note, paper forms and spreadsheet project management practices commonly associated with lean approaches). Ultimately, the tool is used to improve production schedule reliability for more predictable project outcomes.

Using LeanPlanner, project team members can identify near-term constraints and track progress of work from “to do” to “doing” to “done,” anytime, anywhere. LeanPlanner’s analytics and reporting capabilities accelerate the lean journey and promote continuous improvement through deep understanding and insights, including plan percent complete (PPC).

Dan Conery, Newforma’s vice president of business development (and star of this ‘Navigating your journey to lean‘ video), said:

“Applying lean principles to the design and construction industries has tremendous business benefits to customer satisfaction and the overall bottom line. The current manual process of sticky notes on a wall is a good first step that quickly shows its many limitations. The rapidly growing interest in lean methodologies indicates that visual planning tools like LeanPlanner will have an even larger impact on our industry than Building Information Modeling (BIM).

LeanKit is not as well-known as some other lean toolsets associated with construction (such as the Lean Construction Institute‘s Last Planner System), but Chris Hefley, CEO at LeanKit added: “Newforma’s deep industry knowledge and strong market presence, combined with LeanKit’s lean process and work management solution, bring more collaborative, proactive and successful work practices to the building and infrastructure industries.”

Product fit

I asked how does this fit alongside Newforma’s existing offerings? Dan Conery said:

Dan Conery (Newforma VP)A major benefit of all Newforma solutions is each product is designed to help customers save time completing many of the processes they deal with every day. In doing so, Newforma’s products eliminate waste and allow our customers to add value to their customers. Eliminating waste/ adding value are two tenets of lean, and LeanPlanner was created to specifically address these two processes.

As a company, we are focused on finding ways to empower the individual, while supporting team collaboration, and enabling the enterprise to turn data into intelligence. Again, LeanPlanner supports all three of these dimensions. This is something we have desired to add to our portfolio for many years.

Is it integrated with the SaaS or on-premise solutions at all?  If so, how? Dan replied:

Today the answer is no. However, we are talking with our existing customers to determine what they need shared between LeanPlanner and our other solutions in order to ensure data is not entered more than once. Areas we are actively exploring at the moment are the sharing of user accounts and the ability to start a project in LeanPlanner based on projects in other solutions and vice versa.

My view

I am not sure whether ‘lean’ or BIM will prove to have the largest impact on the built environment. More likely, both approaches will be deployed and increasingly integrated (note, I talk about approaches, not technologies). Indeed, the UK’s more progressive clients (eg: Highways England) and their construction supply chains appear to be applying a combination of lean thinking, BIM, collaboration and value-based methods of procurement, with data and information technology as facilitators to the whole process.

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